West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) students in the Class of 2023 were recognized for their achievements in medical school during a Graduation Awards Ceremony on May 4. Graduation awards totaled $47,700.
This year’s class consisted of 177 graduates, with 105 graduates entering primary care residency programs and a 100 percent residency placement rate for the class.
The event recognized 18 students who graduated with honors. In addition, 28 students were recognized as members of Psi Sigma Alpha, a national osteopathic scholastic honor society. Seven students were recognized with American Medical Women’s Association Glasgow-Rubin Certificates of Commendation for Academic Achievement. Forty students received cords reflecting their membership in Sigma Sigma Phi - Nu Chapter, a national osteopathic medicine fraternity that supports medical scholastic excellence. Nine graduates were recognized with special coins for their military service.
The Merck Manual Award for Academic Excellence is presented to the top two female and top two male students based on grade point average in their class. The awards went to Elizabeth Aronica, Jennifer Koski, Ibrahim Rababa and Matthew Shirk.
The WVSOM Alumni Association Roland P. Sharp Graduate Award was created to honor the values of WVSOM’s first president. The award honors a graduating student who exemplifies Dr. Sharp’s vision of holistic care and service. The WVSOM Alumni Association selected Haley Craig-Kovach as this year’s winner.
The Olen E. Jones Jr. and WVSOM Foundation Academic Achievement Award is presented to a student graduating in the top 10 percent of the class. The WVSOM Foundation Board of Directors selected Aaron Byczynski as this year’s winner.
The Opal Price Sharp Memorial Fund was created in memory of the wife of WVSOM’s first president, Dr. Roland P. Sharp. Opal Price Sharp worked alongside Dr. Sharp in the early years of the school, using her journalistic skills to promote WVSOM’s mission throughout West Virginia. This year’s recipients were Elizabeth Aronica and Morgan Karnell for their dedication to osteopathic medicine.
National Health Service Corps Scholar recipients are selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration from students pursuing a career in primary care. In exchange for the scholarship, students agree to practice in a Health Professional Shortage Area upon graduation and licensure. The students commit to one year of service for every year the scholarship is awarded, with a two-year minimum commitment. This year’s recipient was Tehaam Waraich.
WVSOM’s Rural Health Initiative (RHI) recognized 13 graduates who participated in the program. The RHI program is designed to enhance the rural primary care curriculum at WVSOM and produce graduates uniquely qualified to practice medicine in underserved communities in rural West Virginia. Those recognized were Meghan Allwes, Elizabeth Aronica, Andrew Colebank, Thao Englert, Seth Graham, Paul Kasunic, Savannah Keffer, Nicholas Labatch, Lindsey Ray, Anne Reis, Ana Ritz, Mary Rosiek and Katherine Spurlock.
The MSOPTI Rural Scholar program aims to increase the likelihood that students from West Virginia medical schools will self-select residency programs located in the state, establish a relationship in the community and commit to practice medicine in that area. This year’s scholarship recipients were Alexandria Arthur, Megan Goodwin and Savannah Keffer.
The West Virginia Emulation Endowment Trust/Dr. Olen E. Jones Jr. Scholarship was established in 2016 and named after Olen E. Jones Jr., Ph.D., who served as president of WVSOM from 1987 to 2009. The scholarship is awarded to West Virginia students based on literary and scholastic attainments, morality, leadership and physical vigor. This year’s scholarship recipient was Haley Craig-Kovach.
The WVSOM Foundation Scholars awards are given to West Virginia residents with satisfactory academic performance who plan to stay in West Virginia after residency to practice. Preference is given to students from Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Fayette, Gilmer, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Nicholas, Roane, Summers, Wayne, Webster or Wyoming counties. This year’s award recipients were Alexandria Arthur and Ashley McNicholas.
The Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia Farson-Smith-Earley Award is presented to a graduating student who has matched to a West Virginia primary care residency with the intent to practice in a rural area. This year’s recipient was Alexandria Arthur.
A WVSOM student was recognized for receiving the Encova Scholars Award, donated by the Encova Foundation of West Virginia. The recipient was Ryan Murphy.
The Donald Newell Sr. Memorial Award for Outstanding Graduating Senior is presented to a student who, in the opinion of his or her classmates, best exemplifies the qualities of scholarship, osteopathic professional interest, leadership and citizenship. This year’s recipient was Haley Craig-Kovach.
The Gwen Clingman Memorial Scholarship is presented to a graduating student who has demonstrated a commitment to community service throughout his or her time in medical school. Thao Englert was recognized with the scholarship.
The Drs. John and Nancy Chambers Memorial Scholarship Fund is given to a student who intends to practice medicine in an underserved community and who had a strong academic performance. The scholarship honors two former WVSOM professors. This year’s recipient was Allison Silber.
The Olivia Claire Obrokta Pediatric Award recognizes a student who is committed to serving in a pediatric specialty. Deena Obrokta, D.O., Class of 1994, established the award after losing her granddaughter shortly after her birth. This year’s recipient was Kiele Mohre.
The Dr. Catherine A. Bishop Scholarship Fund recognizes a graduating student committed to a residency program in West Virginia. This year’s recipient was Seth Graham.
The David Hinchman, D.O., Emergency Medicine Award was created by Brant Hinchman, D.O., Class of 2012, to honor his retired father, from WVSOM’s Class of 1982, and others who have helped medical students become emergency medicine physicians. The award is given to a graduating student who intends to enter an emergency medicine residency. This year’s recipient was Paige Evans.
The Stephanie Dawn Barragy Memorial Scholarship was established to honor Charles and Jean Cornell’s daughter, who was a victim of suicide. The scholarship recognizes a student committed to working on behalf of mental health issues, with a focus on patient care and intervention. Lucas Betterton was this year’s scholarship recipient.
The Dr. William R. Holmes Jr. Scholarship Award is given to a student who has shown determination, persistence and commitment in pursuing a medical education. This year’s scholarship was presented to Eric Nicolau.
The Eugene McClung, M.D., Family Scholarship was created by McClung’s family to honor his service to the medical profession. McClung was a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine and was a U.S. Army Purple Heart recipient. He practiced internal medicine in Lewisburg from 1957 until his death in 1988. The scholarship recognizes a first-generation college graduate who exhibits a strong interest in community involvement. This year’s recipient was Lucas Betterton.
The West Virginia Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians Award was presented to Abigail Cole. Each year the organization recognizes one student from each of the three medical schools in West Virginia whose performance in clinical rotations reflects an understanding of and commitment to the delivery of emergency care.
The Order of Vesalius Award is presented to a student who has served as a graduate teaching assistant in the biomedical sciences department. Sarai Arbus was presented with this year’s award.
Kamel Faraj and Alexander Woinski were honored with the RAMS Head Award. The award is given to students who served as graduate teaching assistants in the osteopathic principles and practice department.
The Clinical Sciences Award, which recognizes students who served as graduate teaching assistants in a clinical sciences or family medicine capacity, was awarded to Aaron Byczynski and Shannon Misiaszek.
Students from each of WVSOM’s seven Statewide Campus regions received Statewide Campus Outstanding Student Awards for their third- and fourth-year clinical rotations. Scott Bingaman and Lindsey Ray received recognition for the Central East region; Elizabeth Caudle and Kamel Faraj received recognition for the Central West region; Thao Englert and Marion White received recognition for the Eastern region; Bailey Borycki and Haley Craig-Kovach received recognition for the Northern region; Megan Martin, Shannon Misiaszek, Anne Reis and David Williams received recognition for the South Central region; Rhyan Bailey and Matthew Shirk received recognition for the South East region; and Sydney Gualtieri and Peter Leichner received recognition for the South West region.
The Donna Jones Moritsugu Memorial Award recognizes an osteopathic medical student’s spouse or partner. The recipient exemplifies the role of a professional’s partner in providing support to their family and the osteopathic profession. This year’s recipient was Daniel Couturier, spouse of Nancy Couturier.